33 Shadows of the New Covenant in Esther

If you have read Esther, I can assume you have seen the Invisible Hand of providence working all things for the good of God’s chosen people. The theme is “Deliverance of God’s People.” And those people are the Jews, the nation of Israel, the ones who had received the Law and the sacrifices.

But when we read the Old Testament, we should read it as Christians. Sacrifices in Leviticus make us think of our Savior who died for sinners. In some ways those sacrifices are just like the Cross, and in some ways they are different. Esther’s book, too, can be—and should be—compared and contrasted with the second half of the Bible.

6 Ways the book of Esther differs from the New Covenant

  1. There is no fault or guilt on those who need to be saved in Esther.
  2. There is no atonement in Esther.
  3. There is no conversion in Esther.
  4. There is no explicit statement of God or His presence.
  5. There is no righteous King.
  6. There is no church: the heroes are not united to Jesus, baptized in His Spirit, and living stones in His body.

As thrilling as the book of Esther is, it is still revelation from the time of the shadow.

But the text of Esther often sounds like the New Covenant.

Chapter 1

  1. Vashti, like the Old Covenant, must be replaced.

Chapter 2

  1. Mordecai, like Christ, has a mysterious origin. 2:5
  2. Mordecai, like Christ, adopts and guides the heroine. 2:7
  3. Esther, like the Church, obeys Mordecai precisely. 2:20

Chapter 3

  1. Haman, like Satan, is full of pride. 3:2-5
  2. Haman, like Satan, hates God’s people. 3:6
  3. God’s people, like the Church, are spread throughout the entire world. 3:6
  4. The Jews’ laws, like the laws of Christ, stand in contrast to all the other laws of all the other groups of the world. 3:8
  5. The Jews, like the world, are threatened with absolute destruction. 3:13
  6. The king and Haman, like the world, despise God’s people. 3:9-15

Chapter 4

  1. Mordecai, like the Church, must weep over his own danger. 4:1
  2. Mordecai, like Christ, wept over the danger before it happened. 4:1
  3. Mordecai, like the Church, cannot be saved without mourning. 4:4
  4. Mordecai, like Christ, refuses premature comforts. 4:4
  5. Esther, like the Church, has communion with Mordecai depending on and obeying his counsel. 4:4-17
  6. Esther, like the Church, yearns for corporate prayer. 4:16
  7. Esther, like Christ, offers herself willingly. 4:16
  8. Mordecai, like Christ, does what his loved one requests. 4:17

Chapter 5

  1. Esther, like the church, approaches the king with deep reverence. 5:1
  2. The king, like Christ, receives Esther gladly and generously. 5:2-3

Chapter 6

  1. The king, like Christ, delights to honor his servants. 6:6
  2. Mordecai, like Christ, is held in honor above his enemy. 6:11
  3. Mordecai, like Christ, is honored in part before the final honor. 6:11

Chapter 7

  1. Esther, like the Church, forsakes all for the good of God’s people. 7:4
  2. Haman, like Satan, is defeated before all the enemies are destroyed. 7:10
  3. Haman’s plans, like all sins, work out for the good of God’s people. 7:10

Chapter 8

  1. Esther, like the church, weeps before she rejoices. 8:3
  2. The Jews’ deliverance, like Christian salvation, produces saving faith in others. 8:17

Chapter 9

  1. Mordecai, like Christ, terrifies sinners and grows in fame. 9:3-4
  2. The Jews, like the Church, destroy their enemies. 9:5
  3. The Jews, like the Church, have misery removed and honor added. 9:15-19
  4. The Jews, like the Church, experience deliverance through the work of providence more than miracles.

Chapter 10

  1. Mordecai, like Christ, thinks of his people.

What is this list? 30 examples of how to allegorize? Will the next post be: 16 reasons America is the New Israel? Or 9 Truths the Original Author Knew Nothing About? Am I just finding things I like and squeezing them into OT passages? Or worst of all, is a list like this an example of self-centered “me-time” where every passage of Scripture must get back to me and my little group and current concerns?

I hope none of those things! But rather ask yourself one question: Does the book of Esther glorify Jesus Christ? If so, how? How was the Spirit of God intending this little book to glorify the Son of God? My answer is that many important truths are quietly foreshadowed here. Esther is not an identical copy of the New Covenant, but there are notes in this symphony that should make you think of the Composer’s Great Masterpiece. The OT and NT are Different works by the same Author. And the lesser—Esther—should make you think of the greater—the Cross and the Church. There is no mathematical correspondence between Esther and the New Covenant, but there is a matching scent—two different soccer victories by the same unstoppable athlete.

Did the Jews 400 years before Christ think of this? Of course not! Neither did Moses and Caleb and Zelophehad think of the Lamb of God when they read Leviticus 1-7. But if you don’t think of the Lamb of God and “It is finished!” when you read about the sacrifices, you are a bad reader.

If the bread is sweet, there’s sugar in it, and after preaching through this book, it delights my Jesus-hungry palate.

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One Response to 33 Shadows of the New Covenant in Esther

  1. Renee Buchko says:

    I really enjoyed this commentary Seth. Esther is probably my favorite book and I was always fascinated by the fact that God was never openly mentioned but you know of course, He is there. I will definitely reread this many more times.

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